Before Carl Sonny Leyland took to pounding the ivories for Big Sandy's Fly-Rite Boys, he toured the world as a piano man, drawing inspiration from the copulating blues of the '30s, the knees-up jazz of the '20s, and the rock 'n' roll of the early '50s. Feeling the call of boogie-woogie good times again, Leyland recorded I'm Wise last year and hit the road armed with 88 keys and a lexicon of American music. Fast and loose is the name of the game, and no two sets are ever the same. Even his backup band -- the Sloe Gin Joes' upright-bassist Frank Novoicki and drummer Mike Burns -- is subject to the caprice of the moment, whether it be Leyland originals like "The Honky Tonk Wine" or classics like "Wine, Women, & Song." Carl Sonny Leyland plays Friday, July 14, at Cafe Du Nord at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 861-5016. And on Saturday, July 15, with Rockin' Lloyd Tripp & the Zipguns opening at 10 p.m. at the Elbo Room. Tickets are $6; call 552-7788.
The gleeful art-rockers in Zmrzlina first discovered Mission Creek running through the bottom of an elevator shaft in their basement rehearsal space. Deciding to draw on the diverse musical talent collecting on its banks, they organized the first annual Mission Creek Festival to encourage the cross-pollination of these dissimilar but indigenous breeds. It was a hoot. Over the last five years, in the face of the city's cultural strip-mining, Zmrzlina has diligently organized and participated in numerous benefits, but the Mission Creek Festival has remained just a happy occasion for local musicians to hang out together and play, and a reminder that there is a musical scene worth saving. This year's lineup features the Latin electronica of Pepito, the jazzy turntablist mayhem of Live Human, the European savoir-faire of Persephone's Bees, the East Bay poetics of Black Dot Collective, the often spellbinding and sometimes goofy genius of multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney and Finger Puppet, the jazz graces of Marcus Shelby & His Orchestra, and many others, including Rumah Sakit, Wandering Stars, Nickel Beer Riots, Matty Charles, Touched by a Janitor, and of course Zmrzlina. The Mission Creek Festival will be held on Saturday, July 15, at El Rio at 3 p.m. on the patio and 10 p.m. inside. Tickets are $8 all day; call 282-3325.
From the absolutely fabulous creators of Above and Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls and Cyberotica comes Club Inferno, a rock 'n' roll drag review with all your favorite padded and packing performers: Arturo Galster, Leigh Crow, Trauma Flintstone, Kennedy, Peter Fogel, Sourpuss, Birdie Bob Watt, the Malakas, and Tuck & Roll, as well as Connie Champagne, whose skill with fake eyelashes and real song raises her to empress status. Expect high camp, high heels, and high glam rock. Highlights from Club Inferno will be performed on Saturday, July 15, at 8:30 p.m. at the Paradise Lounge. Tickets are $9; call 621-1912. And a preview of the full show will be offered at the Paradise on Sunday, July 16, at 8 p.m. Admission is $15.
For those in need of gender feng shui after the glitz and glam of all those queens, I suggest the fifth annual S.F. Drag King Contest. If this year holds true to form, the club will be dripping and swaggering with machismo, minus the Adam's apples and the hairy knuckles, as the kings match the queens stereotype for sidesplitting stereotype. We're talking white-trash hillbillies, motorcycle mechanics, cowboys, greasers, lumberjacks, sailors, welders, Elvis impersonators, and couch potatoes. Contestants are judged on their fetching good looks and passability (glue-on chest hair is not always a bad idea), as well as their unique and special talents (generally comprised of a pelvis-grinding lip-sync, but not precluding stunning displays of fire-eating, wrestling, contorting, and six-pack beer-guzzling, which have graced the stage in previous years). The proceedings will be hosted by Leigh Crow, the artist formerly known as Elvis Herselvis, with a distinguished panel of qualified judges including Connie Champagne, Johnny Kat, Arty Fishal, S.F. Drag King 1998, Baboyz's Riley Morgan, and Chantal. A strict high-femme, drag, and tranny dress code will be enforced at the S.F. Drag King Contest Saturday, July 15, at King Street Garage at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 ($10 before 10 p.m.); call 282-5378.
Sounding like a glimmering ultra-modern chanteuse, fey-voiced Alameda resident Mario Hernandez combines his love of Japanese pop culture and Beach Boys-flavored song structure in his one-man incarnation From Bubblegum to Sky. Faithful to his new moniker, Hernandez's album, Me and Amy and the Two French Boys, bounces through the airy stratosphere filled with sugary sha la las, sha do ra rays, and shoo bops that cushion cocoa-coated cynicism about live-work lofts and trust-fund kids. Delightful and tasty, From Bubblegum to Sky opens for Three Berry Ice Cream, My Favorite, and the Fairways on Tuesday, July 18, at Bottom of the Hill at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 621-4455.